DIE Volume #2 is published by Image Comics, written by Kieron Gillen, art by Stephanie Hans and letters by Clayton Cowles. With the party split, the various members of the group pursue their own goals. Haunted by both the magic and the mundane, each member is forced to confront not just the challenges ahead, but also those that lie behind.
Having thoroughly enjoyed writer Gillen’s work on The Wicked + The Divine I had meant to get my hands on DIE sooner. Having now read this volume of Gillen’s current work I find myself with mixed feelings toward the story. While there are definitely moments that warrant appreciation, I found them often mired by a tendency to linger on them too long and slowing the narrative just a bit too much. This gave the book a feeling of being overwrought. While it doesn’t ruin the experience it certainly holds it back.
Even though I may find fault with the narrative pacing I cannot find fault with the cast that occupies it. Gillen does an excellent job of keeping these characters feeling genuine and real. By fusing the challenges facing them in the moment with the challenges that linger from their past, these characters are given a real sense of life and completeness. I found this especially true in the case of Angela. Her struggles with her personal challenges both in the world of DIE as well as back at home felt particularly poignant.
DIE Volume #2, while being a bit slow at times, does nonetheless bring the reader deeper into the politics and inner workings of its fantasy setting. What this story had to show was often unique and refreshing. Steering clear of the most well worn of fantasy arch types, Gillen does a great job crafting a world that is both unique and memorable. This is an ever-increasing challenge as the fantasy genre has grown over the years.
The art of DIE Volume #2, much like its story, is a bit of a mixed bag. Hans does a great job where emotion is concerned. The characters’ emotions are always clear and distinct, giving a punch to the characters and their stories. I also loved the color choices Hans makes throughout this volume. The colors are often vibrant and the way they often change over the course of a single page gives a fluidness to the visual presentation.
What held me back though, was the way these colors are applied within the individual images. There was something about how the colors interacted with each other that kept them from meshing together. Rather than an object looking like a smooth transition of a single color being acted upon by light, objects looked to be made of several separate colors that never really joined together. This gave individual objects an almost fractured look to me. Not all the panels in this volume left this impression, but enough did that it was an ongoing issue for me. I don’t even feel like it would be fair to call this color work bad per se, I just don’t think it worked for me.
One area of DIE Volume #2 I can give unrestrictive praise to is the lettering. Cowles does an excellent job adding extra touches to the dialogue through text and dialogue bubble design. I especially appreciate what he does with the character Sol’s dialogue. I would never think a pinkish/purple dialogue bubble would work for him, especially given how much that color clashed with everything else on the panel. Yet, work it does. It makes the reader truly take note when the character speaks. Cowles’s work throughout this book is an excellent example of how much lettering can lend to a story.
DIE Volume #2 provides a unique, emotionally driven experience that I won’t soon forget. While it has some problems with its pacing and its art style, I can certainly appreciate how others could love it more than I did. If an emotionally driven dark fantasy that takes its time developing is something you are searching for, I’d say you might want to give this a shot.
DIE Volume #2 is available February 5th wherever comics are sold.
DIE Volume #2
DIE Volume #2 provides a unique, emotionally driven experience that I won’t soon forget.